Blimey it’s been a shit old week. I’m close to getting my second category licence and the potent mixture of confidence and desperation for points has caused me to lose my mind, to the extent that I came out of self-imposed criterium retirement, to race at Tameside on Tuesday night. You’re either leaning at a 45 degree angle going round a tight bend, or sprinting, and in the end you get beaten by a load of risk averse lads who’ve been racing the track since the winter league. I’ve never lost more confidence in the space of 30 minutes without also hearing the words “i like you as a friend.”
Onto Thursday and I dragged myself to North Yorkshire for an evening road race. Yorkshire’s been having us all on with it’s marketing campaigns. I remember that lad going up a hill to deliver a loaf of bread, turns out that was actually filmed in Dorset. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yorkshire stages of the2014 Tour De France were actually filmed in Ireland, and the Tour De Yorkshire shot on a soundstage at Pinewood Studios like the Moon Landings were. What I’m saying is that I expect Yorkshire, particularly North Yorkshire to be full of rolling hills for old men to ride down in their baths. Yet again I’ve had t’wool pulled over my eyes as this is another pan flat course. I’m only bitter because I couldn’t get a breakaway to stick and in the lottery of the bunch sprint I didn’t even get the bonus ball number.
The ideal way to follow these up then is with a race around Pimbo. Pimbo that beautiful island of factories where they assemble pre packed salads, make blinds, and do whatever proctor and gamble do, which probably involves guinea pigs being made to wear lipstick. As industrial estates tend to be, Pimbo is pan flat and racing around it will almost definitely end in an 80 man sprint. Fun.
Getting to Pimbo involves some complex back timing. The race starts at 14.30, Phil’s a reserve so needs to be there early to see if he’s got a ride, he might have to wait until 13.45 to find out. It takes about an hour to get to Pimbo, but the HQ is about 7km from the course. It’s harder to work out than that one about two trains heading towards each other at different speeds. It’s so complex in fact that it leads to me forgetting to lock the front door which the cats have learned how to open and means they make a daring escape, only returning to throw up on the carpet.
Phil’s finds out at HQ that he’s definitely got a ride. It’s the third time I’ve raced Pimbo and it’s the third different HQ I’ve had to sign on in. They can’t make the course any more interesting so this is the next best thing.
I wasn’t feeling well this morning, I’m also grumpy as hell after the last two races, so I vow to not even take part in this one. I’m just going to ride around and then maybe sprint, but only if everyone is nice to me. That goes out the window about lap 2 when I get up towards the front in case anything interesting happens. With the pace up over 44kmh it’s highly unlikely that’s going to happen, but still riders try it continually, particularly the riders from that team with the pink socks. At one point Steven from Rutland CC and I try and see how long we can leave one of them dangling 20 meters off the front.
The race is playing out in the usual way. The familiar faces are up towards the front of the bunch throughout, but it’s one of those races where, if the pace drops, you can find yourself boxed in and sprinting for 30th, despite all your hard work.
Lap after lap the same thing repeats. 18 times around with only 18 glimpses of the Monster Munch factory to keep you occupied. I must have ridden past that place about 50 times and never spotted it before. The logo is slightly obscured behind a tree and there are no windows to give a clue as to what’s happening inside. That’s probably because of the appalling conditions that the monsters are forced to work in. Ever wonder why you never see the Yellow Monster anymore? That’s because he was ousted when he tried to form a union. That’s why the crips are all threateningly shaped like monster’s feet, you start agitating and that’s where yours will end up. In a bag with some Roast Beef flavouring added. If it was for the impending sprint finish I’d probably be motivated to do something about it.
With about 7 laps to go we approach a lorry that is leaving one of the factories. Phil and I are on the front and a rider shouts “get behind the wagon you cunt.” I think he wants us to draft the lorry. The only thing that prevents him from getting a smack is that we can’t be sure which one of us he’s calling a cunt, and the fact that in my case it’s a pretty accurate description. Also we can’t be sure which of the 78 riders said it. Whoever you are, if you’re going to do that again, can you do it whilst also making a solo attack?
We do get behind the wagon, though. Phil and I are deep in the draft and pulling away from the bunch, unfortunately the driver has no intention of doing 6 more loops for our benefit and instead heads to the motorway. Those Monster Munch obviously need delivering urgently. We don't need the wagon anyways as Phil is putting in big turns to keep the pace up.
Onto the final lap and the sprint finish is looming. I’m forced to do a short turn to keep the pace up, and then a couple of other riders do the same before a young rider from KTM hits the front. I’m second wheel but there’s still probably 1.5km to go. For some reason he seems keen on taking us as close to the line as he can. It’s probably because he’s working for a teammate but I don’t want to take any chances so I keep telling him that he’s forced a split in the bunch and that he’s going to win the race. I don’t know if my wormtongue has any impact, but he keeps the pace high enough to stop us getting mobbed, and when I finally open my sprint I’m probably only 200m out from the line. Miraculously I’m actually in with a chance of winning a big bunch sprint if I can just keep putting the power down. I’m able to surf a couple of wheels and all looks good until a rider from Kendal makes a suicidal move through a non-existent gap forcing riders to sit up. Luckily I’m sheltered from most of the effects but I have to sit back in the saddle before putting the power down again. It probably causes me to lose a couple of places but I still cross the line in 6th. Bonus points at the end of a shitty week.
Later on me and Sizzo watch Point Break and it makes me wonder why I’ve never made an awesome cycling training montage. Hang 10 dudes. Cowabunga.
As always big ups to 23mm for my wheels. Looking forward to racing on the new super deep sections. If you fancy a new set then give Mike a shout and let him know where you heard about them.